It was a drug mule of quite a different kind when police in New Zealand found a huge stash of cocaine inside an elaborate and very fancy diamante-encrusted horse head sculpture.
Reportedly officers became suspicious of an extravagantly decorated diamante-encrusted horse head sculpture coming in from Mexico and discovered 35kg of cocaine hidden inside, worth NZ$14m (US$10m).
Decorated with brown, black and gold diamante sequins and weighing in at 400kg, the sculpture was air-freighted from Mexico in May and turned out to contain 35 bricks of cocaine, each weighing 1kg, hiding inside the base of the neck of the horse sculpture.
As reported by the Telegraph, with a street value of around US$10m, it is the largest seizure of cocaine ever intercepted in New Zealand. Reportedly, it is rare for any significant amounts of cocaine to enter the country, due to strict border controls, as well as the distance from the major foreign drug markets.
Reportedly the price of cocaine on the street in New Zealand tends to be high, while the quality is mainly low.
— ABC News (@abcnews) July 3, 2016
Detective Senior Sergeant Colin Parmenter is in charge of the organized crime unit in Auckland and said in a statement, “This is obviously an extremely large amount of cocaine and in the past we’ve only found very small amounts of this drug.”
“What this find tells us though is that there is obviously a demand for it. While it’s possible that this statue may have been sent on to another country … there’s every possibility that the cocaine was destined for the New Zealand market and we would be naive to think otherwise.”
New Zealand’s largest ever seizure of cocaine, found hidden inside diamante horse sculpture LOOK AT THIS WORK OF ART pic.twitter.com/3ICACZCLiw
— Susan Strongman (@SusanStrongman) July 1, 2016
According to Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas, cocaine is favored by “socialites” in New Zealand, and she said the importation was obviously the work of a sophisticated overseas organized crime operation.
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That may be so, but several Twitter users have questioned the wisdom of hiding drugs inside such a large, unusual, and sparkling sculpture.
I feel like the media’s all talking about the cocaine and no one’s talking about the horror that is that diamante horse
— Katie Duncan (@katfdunc) July 2, 2016
I’m guessing that truly ugly spangled Horse head was just a bit of a clue…
Huge cocaine haul found in horse head https://t.co/dkKsVMsiob
— 2covet (@2covet) July 1, 2016
A 400 kg diamante-encrusted horse sculpture? Yep, nothing suspicious about that. https://t.co/5JwyDnDmXH
— Richard Easther (@REasther) July 1, 2016
Drug traffickers: Make importing your cocaine less conspicuous by not concealing it in a diamanté-studded horse’s head. That tip was free
— The Bounder (@The_Bounder) July 3, 2016
According to drug researcher Chris Wilkins from Massey University, the cocaine may have been destined for Australia, where demand is reportedly high in cities like Sydney or Melbourne.
The Guardian reports that prior to this record-breaking find, police in New Zealand have seized only around 250g of cocaine on average each year.
Three men have been charged relating to the importation – one American national and two Mexicans. Reportedly, the highest penalty for importing cocaine into New Zealand is life imprisonment.
[Imae via New Zealand Police]